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Donations for kids

Hometown hero

A Medford boy seeks help replacing stolen DVDs and video games for children at Shriners Hospital

Reaching across a wooden table, 8-year-old Craig Schneider's small hand pushes a bright blue typewritten sheet bearing a boldly-inked signature.

This is my letter. I might have made a few mistakes, but I signed them all myself, says Craig, a Lone Pine Elementary first-grader in Medford.

My last surgery was October of 2004, the letter reads. After my surgery, I couldn't get out of bed and was in a lot of pain.

Correcting Craig's condition has required multiple castings, surgeries and many stints in Portland Shriners Hospital.

Craig was born with bi-lateral clubbed feet, says his mother, Sunny Spicer. He is a long-term patient at Shriners Hospital.

— Craig and the Portland hospital's other young patients often must endure days of forced inactivity, bed-ridden with boredom as their twisted feet are slowly realigned.

He's weathered the pain and periodic inactivity with a positive attitude. But he says recovery time passes quickly with bed-friendly amusement. The hospital provides popular distractions, Craig's letter reveals: It was nice to use one of the video game machines that they can bring right to your bed.

But just before Craig's most recent surgery, someone stole most of the games and DVDs.

Which brings us to the point of Craig's letter. He's rustling up donations of used and new video games and DVDs for the charity hospital's young patients.

While his last visit lasted just three days, other kids stay much longer, he says.

Craig asked for games and movies for his Christmas and birthday presents so he could donate them to the hospital. And he's taken his letter door-to-door, asking for help.

I know how hard it is to have surgery, and I also know that something simple like watching a movie or playing a game can make the time in the hospital a little better, his letter says.

Any game for Nintendo Game Cube or DVDs would help, Craig says. And since the hospital helps thousands of kids from little babies to teenagers, a wide selection would be nice. But keep it upbeat, please.

Things that are scary or too violent wouldn't be a good idea, his letter says. It helps that Nintendo's games are targeted mostly for a younger audience.

Spicer says she and her son look forward to giving back to the hospital that has given so much to them.

Shriners has always been so good to us, Spicer says. They have paid for everything ' everything. And they have a fair number of patients in this area.

Craig will get treatment at a Shriners' outreach clinic at Rogue Valley Medical Center in Medford on March 5. There, doctors will determine when, or if, he needs more casts and more surgeries, she says.

Since he was 8 months old, Craig endured a series of casts on both feet and lower legs. The casts were changed every couple weeks, she says.

Then he had (a series of) full-leg casts until he was a year-and-a-half, she says. But he still figured out how to crawl, even though he was in casts to his hips.

Hopping to his feet and bounding off to retrieve something from his room, this 8-year-old's energy demonstrates the effectiveness of recent physical therapy after last fall's surgery.

In the hospital and out, Spicer says Craig's positive outlook has served him well. She is proud her son is showing compassion for his hospital-mates.

I think he's pretty special, she says. But I'm a biased mom.

Eyes shining, Craig grins and bounces excitedly in his seat. He's anxious to get outside and resume his door-to-door donation drive, he says.

I'm feeling good right now, Craig says. And maybe now people won't look at me funny when I pass out my letter.

To donate, call Craig at 857-2042.

or by phone at 776-4497.

Craig Schneider, 8, is asking for donations of used and new video games and DVDs for young patients at Shriners Hospital in Portland. Many of the DVDs for the youngsters were stolen recently. Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli